First Look: Kraft House No. 5

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

Upscale pub Kraft House No. 5 opens in Powell today in the space once occupied by Easy Street Cafe at 5 S. Liberty St. Last night, we got sneak peek at the new eatery from longtime restaurateurs Louie and Michael Pappas and executive chef Marcus Meacham, who left Bodega in April to lead the kitchen here. Here's a quick look at the space, drinks and food.

The space: There's nearly nothing left of the former kitschy tenant. Without all the clutter, the space feels much more open. The walls are clean and soft gray. There's a gray stone half divider separating the dining room from the bar area. Wood tables are framed with metal that proved to be more than an aesthetic touch-every table gets a small, magnetized clip board stuck to it. During our visit, it featured the day's 20 draft beer selections (a well-crafted, IPA heavy list of Ohio brews). But, in the weeks to come, Louie says to expect pop-up menus from Meacham featured here. (Another fun play-dishes will be numbered to correspond with the cuts of meat numbered on the pig and cow diagrams painted in white on the restaurant's black feature wall. So you can immediately see where your meat is coming from.)

The food: Which brings us to the menu-fans of Meacham's food at Bodega will recognize a few dishes in style, like the Mini Smoked Lobster Roll ($13) starter with vanilla butter and the Mussels and Fries ($16) entrée with garlic fries, benton's bacon and blue cheese. Offerings are divided into appetizers, soups, salads, pubwiches and entrées. It's a wide collection of pub favorites with a bit of the South, in dishes like whole wings, cheese and toast, gumbo, kale salad, shrimp and grits, hangar steak and a double bone-in pork chop.

From the starters, we got to sample a creamy mac and cheese ($6) packed with herbs that made it far more than one-note. The Shank in a Blanket ($8) was a tender braised pork shank wrapped in a crisp rosemary-spiked puff pastry that got better with every bite. A Porchetta ($14) sandwich packed with braised pork shoulder, roasted pork belly, vinegary rapini, white cheddar and provolone was good and juicy (maybe a little too juicy as the bottom of the bun was soggy by the time it got to our table). I did enjoy the playful touch of crispy pig ears spiking the top of the bun. And crisp garlic fries with a spicy tomato aioli are definitely worth the $2 upgrade with sandwiches.

The drinks: Liquid offerings take up half the menu, with craft beer-available on draft, in cans and for table share (22-ounce bombers)-emerging as the standout. I'd return simply for the draft beer list that's a who's who of some of the best local crafts around. There are also four wines on tap, plus eight craft cocktails (all $10) that range from a Watershed gin and tonic to a beer-cocktail version of a Moscow Mule (the Ginger 101 with gin, ginger liqueur, IPA and a torched lemon). The Great Peruvian Raid was both smoky and refreshing with pisco, mescal, cucumber, lemon, simple syrup, egg white, Peycauds and salt.

There's also a late-night menu, kids' menu and brunch is in the works. For more behind the restaurant, check out our earlier blog post here.